With everything that’s wrong in the world today, it’s easy to become lost in a mire of cynicism and find oneself stunned into self-pitying perplexity. Many writers spend their time thinking of who to blame and rightly criticize their home nations for whatever is their share of the world’s woes. But on this Fourth of July, I’d like to take a look at the best and brightest features of my home nation, the United States.

Pundits and patriots often say things in boastful praise of the United States, but it’s just a talking point. They are often unable to support their subjective claims of national greatness with objective points of related fact. But from cultural achievements to world-changing inventions and a history of fighting for what’s right, there is as much here to praise as there is to critique. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but it documents ten cultural, social and political advancements which originated in or are paramount to the United States and that make living here, despite the numerous well-documented problems, still such a great experience.

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This article was first posted on July 4, 2013